Why Radiation Therapy
Radiation Therapy is the branch of medicine that deals with the treatment of cancer by delivering high-energy beams directly to the intended target. Radiation Therapy has two equally important goals: to control the growth of the tumor and to do so while minimizing exposure to the surrounding normal, healthy tissue. Radiation Therapy is broadly divided into external beam radiation therapy (EBRT), where radiation is delivered to the target from an external machine, and brachytherapy, where radiation is delivered by placing the radiation source inside the body near the intended target. Both techniques are used for treating a large variety of tumor types.
How Does It Work?
External beam radiation therapy, or EBRT, is a treatment option that delivers radiation to the target site from an external machine, typically called a linear accelerator, or linac. The linac generates high-energy radiation focused precisely on the tumor and delivered from many different angles to target each part of the tumor and deliver the prescribed amount of radiation. Radiation kills cancer cells by destroying their DNA, which interrupts their ability to reproduce. Normal cells can recover from radiation more easily.
When designing your treatment plan, your medical team relies on one or more types of 3-D scans of your body. These can include a CT scan, an MRI and/or a PET scan. By looking at these scans and other test results, the radiation oncologist and his or her team determines which EBRT technique is best suited for your particular case.
Key Advantages of Radiation Therapy:
- Noninvasive, no incisions
- No anesthesia or hospitalization required
- Painless treatment
- Outpatient procedure
- Little to no recovery time
- Allows for an immediate return to daily activities
- Minimal, if any, side effects due to pinpoint precision of high-dose radiation delivery
- Minimal radiation exposure to healthy tissue surrounding a tumor
Radiation therapy may be an option for patients with:
- Medically inoperable or surgically complex tumors, or those who seek an alternative to surgery or conventional radiation therapy.
- Recurrent cancer or metastatic tumors that have spread to other areas of the body from the main tumor site.
- A high risk of developing complications after surgery.
Our Radiation Therapy Treatments
Soft Radiation Therapy (Skin Treatment)
Our Sensus® Therapy Unit is the first facility in the State of Colorado to install state-of-the-art equipment that offers skin cancer patients with a new, non-invasive, non-Moh’s, non-surgical option to curatively treat basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma of the skin. This new modality is especially useful and effective for head, neck and face skin cancers because there are no surgical scars (no scalpels and no needles) as a result of treatment or needed for treatment. This treatment, called SRT or “soft radiation treatment,” is effectively limited to the thickness of the skin and focused directly to the cancerous spot(s). Treatment can be administered in as little as two days per week for 8 treatments total and is 95% — 98% effective. The actual treatment sessions last a minute or less.
While the national skin cancer diagnosis rate is annually estimated to be 2.5 times greater than all other cancers, there are between 10% and 20% of these patients with pre-existing conditions that are not conducive to an invasive procedure. Many patients who have had one or more Moh’s surgeries may prefer a non-surgical option.
SRS, or stereotactic radiosurgery, is a technique that is most commonly used for tumors in the brain or spinal column. Unlike IMRT, SRS is typically delivered in a maximum of 5 sessions. Despite the use of the word “surgery” in its name, it does not involve removing the tumor with a surgical blade. Instead, a focused high-intensity beam of radiation is used to target the tumor.
Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy
SBRT, or stereotactic body radiation therapy, is a very similar technique to SRS but is used for targets that are outside the brain and the spine. SBRT is most commonly used for targets in the lung, liver, pancreas and kidney, and is typically delivered in a maximum of 5 sessions.
Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
IMRT, or intensity modulated radiation therapy, is a technique which uses the 3-D scans of your body to guide the beams of radiation to the tumor from many different angles. At each of these angles, the intensity of the radiation is varied (modulated) and the shape changed to suit the shape of the tumor. This directs the prescribed amount of radiation to each part of the tumor, and minimizes exposure to the surrounding healthy tissue. IMRT treatments are typically delivered daily for 10-20 minutes over a 6-8 week time period.
Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)
IGRT, or image-guided radiation therapy uses sophisticated computer software to analyze a series of image scans to create a detailed, three-dimensional picture of the tumor, or target, and the surrounding tissues. The scans typically are produced by computed tomography (CT scan), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or positron emission tomography (PET scan).
Volumetric Arc Therapy
VMAT, or volumetric arc therapy (RapidArc), is an advanced form of radiation treatment introduced by Varian. VMAT uses special software and an advanced linac to deliver treatments quickly. With conventional treatments the linac makes repeated stops to treat the tumor from a number of different angles. With VMAT, the treatments can be delivered to the entire tumor in a single, brief, smooth rotation.
Brachytherapy – Internal Radiation Therapy
Brachytherapy, which is also called internal radiation therapy, treats cancer by placing radioactive seeds directly into or next to the target area. The technique has proven to be a highly successful treatment option for many cancers of the prostate, cervix, endometrium, breast, skin, bronchus, esophagus, and head/neck, as well as soft-tissue sarcomas and several other types of cancer. One techniques available to the physician when administering Brachytherapy is High Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy.
Brachytherapy – High Dose Rate (HDR)
HDR uses higher-strength radioactive sources to provide radiation to the target. These sources are only implanted in the body temporarily to emit radiation.
Speak with one of our dedicated Team Members about how we can help today.